Most modern governments marry the legislature and the bureaucracy when it comes to the matter of routine governance. It’s a relatively straightforward and effective system; elected representatives are made ministers of bureaucratic departments staffed by career bureaucrats, while the parliament – the upper, lower and provincial houses – can perform oversight of departmental functions when they see fit. The elected representative supplies the tenor of the public opinion and general policy directions of the present government while the bureaucrats utilise their specialist knowledge to advise and carry out these directions. A straightforward system – the only catch is, the elected politicians need to have a workable knowledge of the departments that they are administering.

This divide was on full display on Friday when the Senate Standing Committee on Interior directed National Database and Registration Authority Chairman Usman Yousaf Mobinon to “introduce multiple identification” in the country and open more offices across the world.

Unfortunately it appears that the Senate was not adequately educated about NADRA and its operations, as any person beyond a layman would be aware that these demands are adrift and uninformed. Firstly, there is already a Supreme Court order restricting the amount of offices that can be opened abroad. Moreover the need for more offices has already been eliminated by moving to online networks. Unnecessary also is the demand to introduce “multiple identification”, which are superfluous and expensive luxuries for Pakistan where we have more pressing security measures which can be taken.

If institutions such as NADRA are to heed the Senate’s recommendations, then it is the Senate’s responsibility to be educated and knowledgeable of the technicalities being discussed. Our parliamentary bodies ought to provide good oversight of our institutions- not to share casual dining-room opinions.